Cadaver Tombs

Church of St Giles, Holme, near Newark, Nottinghamshire.

Tomb to John Barton -the Founder's Tomb

Monument to John Barton (d 1491), a rich wool merchant who founded St. Giles church.

(Sketch by Dickinson, 1819)





The following extract is taken from the church guide:

John Barton built this tomb during his lifetime -a common practice in days when executors did not always do what they were told. The faces are not stereotyped shop-made articles, but look like portraits if you not the firm character in the Founder's face -just as you would expect in a wealthy business man. Note the grim corners of the mouth. He wears a cassock-gown with a plain waist belt from which hangs his purse-pocket, decorated with five balls or tassels. There are also battered remains of his rosary (which his will tells us was of coral 'as he was wont to use'). At his feet is his rebus -a barrel or tun with a bar across it for 'Barton'.

His wife Isabella wears a high waisted dress, full skirt and tight bodice with a low-cut circular neck-opening with a wide border. The neck is covered with gauze save for an open V at the throat. Her belt is trimmed with squares and has a beautiful tongue adorned with Gothic leaves. Her headdress is a modified form of the 'Butterfly'. This was a gauze veil hung over wires worn over a white linen skull cap or coif. At her feet is her pet dog. (probably not, a dog in this situation was a symbol of fidelity) Her whole costume is slightly old-fashioned. (for the tomb date).

Below them is a corpse as a 'memento mori' of what all must come to. On the Lady Chapel side is the touching inscription from Job xix, 21, in Latin: 'Miseremeni mei saltem vos amici mei quia manus domini tetigit me' ('Pity me you at least my friends for the hand of the Lord has touched me').

Six blank shields at the base were supplied with painted heraldry copied from the Barton shields on the porch and other decorations on traditional lines was added in 1936.





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